In Valheim, after defeating The Elder, you’ll pick up the swamp key, and that will set you down the path to exploring the swamp biome and crafting iron tools, weapons, and armor. This Valheim walkthrough begins after defeating The Elder and ends at the next boss, Bonemass.
Between The Elder and Bonemass, you’ll expand infrastructure and prepare for what’s coming later. You’ll get a new metal — iron — and make some new tools. You’ll do a lot more work on your base(s), make a ton of meals and potions, and start farming. We’ll spend a lot of time preparing — both for the boss fight with Bonemass, but also just to survive exploring the swamps.
Along the way, we’ll find and explore swamp biomes, brew poison resistance potions, expand farming to include both carrots and turnips, learn some new recipes at cauldrons, learn about comfort and the rested effect, upgrade your workbench and forge, and crafting the best armor for the Bonemass fight. In the swamps, we’ll talk about sunken crypts and collecting scrap iron, crafting some iron weapons, and finding Bonemass’ summoning altar. After all of that, we’ll tackle summoning and defeating Bonemass.
Table of contents
- Step 1: Find a swamp biome
- Step 2: Brew poison resistance potions
- Step 3: Upgrade your workbench and forge to upgrade weapons and armor
- Step 4: Food, potions, and farming
- Step 5: Increase your comfort to get more benefit from the rested effect
- Step 6: Find sunken crypts to collect iron
- Step 7: Craft an iron pickaxe, a banded shield, and an iron mace
- Step 8: Find the Bonemass summoning altar and collect 10 withered bone
- Step 9: Summoning and defeating Bonemass
Step 1: Find a swamp biome
The clue for where to go next comes from the item that The Elder drops — the swamp key. It’s time to find a swamp biome.
Before we go any farther, let us say this: Swamps are deadly. If you’re not prepared with extra health and poison resistance — stuff we’ll talk about a lot in this guide — you’re going to die. Sometimes within seconds.
A lot of what follows is about preparing you to survive walking into a swamp. This guide is about making sure you You do have to find one first.
Build a portal (10 greydwarf eye, 20 fine wood, 2 surtling cores) at your favorite base camp and give it a name like “Swamp” (just something you’ll remember). Make sure you load up your inventory with enough greydwarf eye, fine wood, and surtling cores to build another portal when you get to the swamp. Link them together to make traveling to and from swamps a lot easier.
Swamps are pretty obvious when you find them. The weather changes, they’re full of mud and poisonous things, and they show up brown on your map.
Swamp biomes tend to generate a good distance away from your starting location. Most likely, you’ll be doing some sailing to find one. If you haven’t yet, it’s definitely time to build a karve (30 fine wood, 10 deer hide, 20 resin, 80 bronze nails).
You’re welcome to poke around a little, but swamps are nasty in general and deadly if you’re not prepared. Build your second portal somewhere close (it doesn’t have to be in the swamp, just close enough to make travel convenient), and head back to your camp.
These portals serve two purposes: easy access to your base and supplies, and a quick way back to the swamp when you inevitably die.
Step 2: Brew poison resistance potions
The blobs and leaches living in swamp biomes will poison you, and that will kill you shockingly quickly. You’ll also want a bunch of poison resistance meads (mead base: poison resistance [10 honey, 5 thistle, 1 neck tail, 10 coal] in a fermenter).
Let’s talk about those ingredients:
- Honey comes from bee hives. You’ll find them in the wild in meadows biome abandoned structures. When you destroy them, you might pick up a queen bee. Use those to start a beehive (10 wood, 1 queen bee) at your base. If you haven’t yet, make a beehive or five.
- Thistle is a glowing blue twig in the black forest biome.
- Necks spawn near water in the meadows biome and always drop at least one neck tail.
- Coal comes from the charcoal kiln you built to smelt your copper and tin ore (and other places, but this is the easiest and fastest method).
Your mead base must sit in a fermenter (30 fine wood, 5 bronze, 10 resin) for two in-game days (about an hour real-world time) to brew. If you have the resources, space, and patience, build a few fermenters to have a steady supply of potions.
Step 3: Upgrade your workbench and forge to upgrade weapons and armor
Blunt weapons work well against several swamp enemies (blobs and skeletons are especially weak to blunt damage), so bring something like a club (6 wood), bronze mace (4 wood, 8 bronze, 3 leather scraps), or a stagbreaker (20 core wood, 5 deer trophy, 2 leather scraps). We’re fans of the bronze mace.
Whatever weapon you’re using, upgrade it at your workbench or forge to make it stronger. You’ll need to upgrade those as well, though.
For your workbench, you’ll have the plans to build:
- Chopping block (10 wood, 10 flint)
- Tanning rack (10 wood, 15 flint, 20 leather scraps, 5 deer hides)
- Adze (10 fine wood, 3 bronze)
For the forge, you’ll have:
- Forge cooler (25 fine wood, 10 copper)
- Anvils (5 wood, 2 bronze)
Building these close to their respective benches will upgrade the workbench to level 4 and the forge to level 3.
To save on space, build some shelves out of the wall and stack the upgrades — you don’t need to access them since they just need to be close.
With those built, interact with the bench, and look for the Upgrade tab in the crafting section. The star in the requirements refers to your workbench or forge level.
Upgrade troll hide armor, which is better for swamps
The bronze armor you crafted for your fight against The Elder carries a 10% penalty to movement speed (and it’s expensive to upgrade).
The troll armor set, on the other hand, has no penalty to movement, makes you sneaky (a full set gives you the sneaky effect), and weighs half as much as the bronze armor. With a little work upgrading it at level 4 workbench, it’ll even have similar armor (basically, defense) stats as the base bronze set.
Trolls are the giant blue creatures in black forest biomes. They deal some nasty damage, so killing them isn’t trivial. However, a parry (blocking just before the attack lands) will knock them back for a couple seconds, giving you an opening to land a few hits.
Trolls are weak to piercing damage, so a bronze spear (5 wood, 6 bronze, 2 deer hide) is your best weapon against them.
Every troll you kill will drop 5 troll hide and some coins. To craft the base set, you’ll need a level 3 workbench and:
- Troll leather helmet (5 troll hide, 3 bone fragments).
- Troll leather tunic (5 troll hide).
- Troll leather pants (5 troll hide).
- Troll hide cape (10 troll hide, 10 bone fragments).
Upgrading the set to level 2 requires a level 4 workbench and more troll hide and bone fragments.
Step 4: Food, potions, and farming
We’ve talked about the effects that eating has — increasing your max health and stamina, and healing you every tick (10 seconds). Generally speaking, fruit and fruit-based foods increase your max stamina more than your max health, while meat increases health more.
With a cauldron — you probably built one back when you were prepping for the The Elder boss fight — we’ve got a few recipes now that are huge boosts to your stats (and, therefore, a boost to your chances of survival in a swamp):
- Queens jam (8 Blueberries, 8 raspberries) is good for stamina.
- Carrot soup (1 mushroom, 3 carrots) is even better for your stamina.
- Sausages (3 entrail, 1 raw meat, 4 thistle) are really good for both, with slightly more health than stamina.
- Turnip stew (1 raw meat, 3 turnips) gives an equal (and large) boost to both health and stamina, making it the best food you have available right now.
That’s a lot of different ingredients, so let’s break them down.
Swamp item ingredient locations
|Honey||Meadows||You’ll find them in abandoned structures. When you destroy them, you might pick up a queen bee. Use those to start a beehive (10 wood, 1 queen bee) at your base. If you (still) haven’t yet, make a beehive or five.|
|Carrots||Black forest||These come from carrot seeds — those white flowers in black forest biomes. You’ll have to grow them with a cultivator.|
|Mushrooms (the red ones)||Meadows and black forest|
|Turnips (from turnip seeds)||Swamp||Look for yellow flowers in swamp biomes. You’ll have to grow them with a cultivator.|
|Entrails||Swamp||Draugrs, the zombie things all over the swamp biomes, drop these.|
|Thistle||Black forest||Look for glowing blue twigs.|
Expand your farm to get more carrots, turnips, and honey
The foods that give the best benefits require carrots and turnips, and you won’t find them just laying around. You’ll have to grow them from seeds.
You’ll collect carrot seeds from white flowers in black forest biomes, and turnip seeds from yellow flowers in swamp biomes. With those in hand, plant them with a cultivator (5 core wood, 5 bronze) in some cultivated soil.
Boars and other enemies seem to hate growing plants, so you’ll need to build a fence — either roundpole fence (1 wood) or stakewall (4 wood) if you’re into overkill — around your garden plot.
Seeds take a few in-game days (an hour to an hour and a half of real-world time) before they’re ready to harvest. Planting a seed-carrot (1 carrot) or seed-turnip (1 turnip) will grow into three more seeds. When you’re harvesting, replant one of every three vegetables to keep the cycle going.
Since you’ve got a fenced-in plot, this is a good place to build your beehives (10 wood, 1 queen bee) to keep them protected. Beehives will produce 4 honey every (roughly) three in-game days. Since you’ll need so much honey for your poison resistance potions (and other potions, too), it’s a good idea to make several for a steady supply.
Step 5: Increase your comfort to get more benefit from the rested effect
We haven’t spent a lot of time talking about buildings in these guides, and it’s time to do something about that. What we’re really talking about, though, is the rested effect and comfort.
You’ll earn the rested effect (+50% health and +100% stamina regeneration) whenever you sit or sleep near a fire and under a roof. (You’ll see the sheltered icon on your HUD.) The rested effect starts with a 7-minute timer — you’ll get those benefits for seven minutes after you leave the sheltered area. You can increase that, though.
Comfort is a numeric rating of how nice your shelter is. Comfort considers about a 10 meter radius (five of the big floor tiles). Four (or more) walls, a roof, proximity to a fire, furniture, and rugs all increase your comfort. You’ll see your comfort number on your HUD under the resting icon.
Every level of comfort adds a minute to your rested effect timer.
Valheim’s maximum comfort is 17, but you won’t get 17. A six or even an eight should be possible with a little work, though. Build lots of furniture, and keep your house’s footprint small (remember that 10-meter radius, and center it on your bed or chairs). That will get you 12-15 minutes of the rested effect and make your trips into the swamp biomes much safer.
Visit Haldor the merchant in a black forest biome (if you find him)
There is a merchant or trader named Haldor in Valheim. The problem is that his location is randomly generated when you create your world, and there’s no sure way to find him.
We’re mentioning him here for two items that will make dealing with the swamp biome and hauling heavy iron a little easier. To be clear, these things aren’t necessary. They’re just really helpful.
Haldor always spawns in a black forest biome, and he seems to have rules about how close to your sacrificial stones he spawns. He tends to spawn at least as far out as swamp biomes. Again, though, his location is random. He might be on your first island (depending on its size), or he might be on the very edge of the world.
While you’re wandering, watch for black forest biomes and keep an eye on your minimap in the corner. When you get close to Haldor, a bag (a loot or swag bag?) icon will appear on both your minimap and map. It’s persistent — once it appears, you’ll always have it.
When you find him, build a portal (10 greydwarf eye, 20 fine wood, 2 surtling cores) so you can get back and forth quickly.
Haldor sells his goods for coins. You’ll have a stack of coins from burial chambers and from killing trolls. You can also sell all of your amber, amber pearls, and rubies to him for more coin.
Right now, we’re interested in two things he’s selling:
- Megingjord (950 coins). This is an equipable belt that will increase your encumbrance weight to 450, making it easier to carry a lot of metal.
- Dverger circlet (620 coins). This circlet replaces your helmet and acts like a headlamp. This frees up your hands — you don’t need to carry a torch to see — when you’re exploring burial chambers and sunken crypts.
These are both very expensive items. You’ll have to do a lot of delving into burial chambers and hunting trolls to get the coins. In the next section, you’ll be heading into sunken crypts where you’ll find even more coins and valuables.
Step 6: Find sunken crypts to collect iron
With all of that preparation, it’s finally time to talk about your real purpose in the swamp biomes — finding sunken crypts and collecting scrap iron.
Sunken crypts are obvious when you find them, and they only appear in swamp biomes. They’re green stone structures leading underground — crypts, you might even say. There are green flame torches on either side of the door.
Inside, sunken crypts work like the burial chambers you explored in the black forest biome. There’s a central room with as many as three hallways branching off. Those hallways are full of branching paths and flooded stretches.
You’ll run into lots of blobs and draugrs in crypts and pick up valuables like coins, rubies, and amber. Make sure you drink a poison resistance mead before (or as soon as) you head into a sunken crypt.
More importantly, you’ll find muddy scrap piles — some of which will block hallways. Use a pickaxe to mine them, and you’ll get scrap iron, leather scraps, and the occasional withered bone. A couple notes on these:
- scrap iron. You’ll only find scrap iron in these muddy scrap piles inside sunken crypts. It becomes iron when run through a smelter. You’ll use it to make some new tools and structures. Making any iron items takes a lot of iron, so you’ll be heading into crypts quite a bit.
- withered bones. You’ll eventually need 10 withered bones to summon your next boss, Bonemass.
Build iron mining camps
Since scrap iron and smelted iron can’t go through a portal, and because sailing in Valheim is so very slow, you’ll end up doing a lot of scrap iron processing on-site in (or near) swamps. And that means building camps. We talked a lot about comfort at your home base up above, but a temporary camp dedicated to processing iron doesn’t need much.
When it’s time to process iron, don’t worry about building an entire base. Just build the essentials. Here are the basics:
- Workbench (10 wood)
- Campfire (5 stone, 2 wood)
- Charcoal kiln (20 stone, 5 surtling cores)
- Smelter (20 stone, 5 surtling cores)
- Forge (4 stone, 4 coal, 10 wood, 6 copper)
You’re welcome to build a bed if you want to reset your spawn point, but it’s not necessary. It’s probably safer to build your portal close and sleep somewhere drier.
A lot of what you need to build the above structures can be carried in your inventory (or packed into a karve’s hold) and go through portals. You can even get away with skipping the charcoal kiln if you carry a whole lot of coal with you — at least a full stack of 50. Remember that smelting an ore (or scrap iron) requires 2 coal for each bar.
For copper, you should be relatively close to a source. Swamp biomes seem to generate next to black forest biomes.
Build your limited camp to process the scrap iron you find, turn that iron into a portal-friendly tool, and then move on to the next sunken crypt.
Reuse portal (and camp) materials
When it’s time to move to a different part of the swamp (or a different swamp altogether), break down your portal and pick up the resources. The portal back at your camp will remain in place with the same tag.
When you find a new sunken crypt and are ready to make another camp, build a new portal and give it the same tag as before. That will link back to your base camp portal, and you won’t have to worry about remembering multiple tags.
The same process — destroy structures and collect the resources — works for your whole camp. Instead of dotting the landscape with useless camps, reuse and repurpose what you already have.
Step 7: Craft an iron pickaxe, a banded shield, and an iron mace
Building out an entire iron processing infrastructure is a big endeavor. It’s also not really necessary for tackling Bonemass — he’s a poison-heavy boss, so physical protection isn’t as important this time around.
Instead, let’s focus on the items that will do you the most good when fighting Bonemass:
- Iron pickaxe (3 core wood, 20 iron), level 2 forge. The iron pickaxe is the best pickaxe in the game. All that iron is worth investing for the time you’ll save on all future mining endeavors.
- Banded shield (10 fine wood, 8 iron). Blocking and parrying (see the section about trolls up above), are going to keep you alive and give you an advantage. In fact, a successful parry followed by an attack with an upgraded bronze mace will usually kill a skeleton with one hit.
- Iron mace (4 wood, 20 iron, 3 leather scraps). Since so many of the enemies you’ll be facing in the swamp — both general mobs and the boss — are weak to blunt damage, a good mace will make you better at killing them.
Upgrade your forge and build a stone cutter to further upgrade weapons
We talked above about upgrading your workbench to level 4 and your forge to level 3. When you have access to iron, you can upgrade your forge all the way to level 7.
These upgrades are probably best built at your primary base, so you’ll be hauling iron over long distances. That means a lot of sailing and walking.
For water travel, you have two options with their own storage:
- Karve (30 fine wood, 10 deer hide, 20 resin, 80 bronze nails). Karves have 4 storage slots.
- Longship (40 fine wood, 40 ancient bark, 10 deer hide, 100 iron nails). Ancient bark comes from the huge trees in the swamp biomes. Longships have 18 storage slots.
For overland travel, build a cart (20 wood, 10 bronze nails) to pull along behind you. A cart has 18 slots of storage, but it’s tough to use over hills or rough terrain.
However you transport it, when you get your iron back to the camp you’re upgrading, build:
- Smith’s anvil (5 wood, 20 iron)
- Toolrack (10 wood, 15 iron)
- Forge bellows (5 wood, 5 deer hide, 4 chain). You’ll only find chain in sunken crypts — you cannot craft it.
The last upgrade to your forge requires a couple more steps. Build a stone cutter (10 wood, 4 stone, 2 iron). This is another crafting table that unlocks (mostly) structural recipes. That part isn’t important right now. What matters is using it to craft a sharpening stone (5 stone).
Now you can build the next forge upgrade:
- Grinding wheel (25 wood, 1 sharpening stone)
All of the upgrades get your forge up to level 7. That gives you a lot of room to upgrade your items — focus on the iron mace and banded shield especially.
Build a hearth for more cooking stations and cauldrons
A stonecutter gives you the ability to build a hearth (15 stone). Hearths work exactly like a campfire: You’ll still need to deal with the smoke, periodically feed it wood, and protect it from rain. They’re nicer looking, though.
More importantly, hearths give you a lot more real estate for cooking stations (2 wood) and cauldrons (10 tin). With all the potions and meals you’ve been making, extra cauldrons never hurt.
Step 8: Find Bonemass summoning altar, collect 10 withered bone
Somewhere in the sunken crypts you explore, you’ll find the Bonemass vegvisir runestone — the small runestone with the glowing red sigil — that will put Bonemass’ summoning altar on your map. If you haven’t found it yet, keep delving into sunken crypts.
Before you head out, build a portal (10 greydwarf eye, 20 fine wood, 2 surtling cores) near your base with the tag “Bonemass” (or whatever you want — we’re not your boss), and take the materials to build another when you get there.
You’ll know the altar when you see it. It’s a giant, open-mouthed skull.
At the summoning altar, look for another runestone — ours was right behind the skull. Read it, and you’ll see the hint “Cook their remains,” letting you know you’ll need to toss 10 withered bones into the giant skull’s mouth. Withered bones come from, conveniently, sunken crypts as well. If you don’t have 10 yet — you very likely already have them — keep raiding those crypts.
Step 9: Summoning and defeating Bonemass
With all of that preparation, we’re finally ready to take on Valheim’s third boss, Bonemass. Check out our dedicated Bonemass guide if you want a less cluttered page.
Preparing for Bonemass
You or your group will be ready to fight Bonemass after you’ve spent some time collecting iron and crafting iron gear.
Since iron comes from the swamps, it’s likely that somewhere along the way you’ll find Bonemass’ summoning location, which you’ll need to know before the fight. Once you know where he is, you’ll need to make sure you have the right gear prepared before you summon him for the fight.
Bladed and piercing weapons won’t do much damage to Bonemass. Instead, you’ll need to craft a blunt weapon like a mace — preferably iron, but bronze can work, too.
Similarly, bows won’t work well against him, but you should bring them along for reasons we’ll get into later.
At least one person in your party should also bring a Stagbreaker hammer to help clear smaller enemies during the fight. If you’re alone, it makes for a good backup weapon.
Armor is slightly less important for Bonemass game because most of his damage comes from poison, rather than direct hits. You can make a full suit of iron armor, but bronze or even troll hide would likely be fine.
Rather than great armor, you’ll instead need to bring plenty of strong food with you. Meat-based food gives you the most health, which is exactly what you’ll need when fighting Bonemass. Your best food options will be sausages, cooked meat, and turnip stew or cooked lox meat, if you’re brave enough to venture into the plains to find it. If you can’t get three meat-based foods, Queen’s Jam is a good substitute.
The final step to preparing for Bonemass is having poison resistance potions to mitigate his damage. Poison resistance potions require honey, thistle, neck tails, and coal. You have to be bake them in a cauldron and then brew them in a fermenter. They take a very long time to brew so get started on this early.
Each potion lasts 10 minutes, and they’ll need to be active for the entire boss fight, so you’ll probably need more than one. Two potions should get you through the fight, but everyone in your group should bring three, in case something goes wrong and the fight takes a very long time.
Bonemass’ location is always in swamps, which means there are enemies everywhere and some pretty deep and dangerous water, so be careful where you fight him. Clear out other enemies in the area before you start your fight with Bonemass.
His summoning location usually involves a lot of dry land. Keep him close to that, so you avoid the swampy, leech-filled waters.
Once you clear the area and figure out where to fight him, head to the giant skull and summon Bonemass by adding 10 withered bones to the boiling green liquid in the giant skull.
Bonemass has three attacks to learn and recognize.
- A slow swipe to his front with his right hand. Getting hit by this will deal heavy damage and poison you, but it’s pretty predictable and slow, making it easy to dodge.
- Bonemass pulls slime off of his body and throws to make blobs that join the fight against you. This animation is very long and can’t hurt you, so get several hits in during it. Kill the blobs that spawn quickly, ensuring that they don’t overrun you later in the fight.
- Bonemass rocks forward and backward and unleashes poison all around himself. This area-of-effect poison ability is also slow but it hits hard, so don’t get too greedy while he’s casting it.
Attacking Bonemass’ weaknesses
Bonemass has a lot of health, so this will mostly be a war of attrition. Take things slowly, and don’t get too close if you don’t have enough health to survive. You’ll need more health than you might think because you have to survive the ticks of poison as well as the initial hit.
When you need to fall back, use your bow to damage Bonemass. Otherwise he’ll slowly heal himself when he stops taking damage for too long. Your bow is also a great tool for pulling him out of his own AOE poison clouds. Other than these two uses, the bow does almost no damage, so limit its uses to these situations only.
Bonemass trophy and rewards
After the very long and slow fight, you’ll eventually take Bonemass down. Once he dies, he’ll drop the Bonemass trophy, which you can use at the summoning circle for a new resistance power. Every player in the party also gets a wishbone, which lets you know when there’s silver nearby.
Now that you’ve conquered the swamp, you can head into the mountains in search of silver and wolf pelts.